The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has finally admitted that the “gender pay gap” is caused primarily by women’s choices, not discrimination.
- In fact, the AAUW’s own research suggests that only about 7% of the observed pay gap can be attributed to discrimination, with simple economic factors accounting for the remainder.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has finally admitted that the “gender pay gap” is caused by women’s choices.
In a recent article on the gender pay gap, AAUW Senior Researcher Kevin Miller concedes that the pay disparity between women and men isn’t caused primarily by discrimination, but rather by the personal and professional choices that women make.
“The gender pay gap is…not an estimate of the effect of discrimination.” Tweet This
These choices include the tendency of women to work fewer hours to focus on “domestic work” and accept “reduced job tenure resulting from breaks in labor-force participation to raise children.”
Miller even notes that women tend to choose lower-paying jobs than do men, pointing out that dangerous jobs such as “construction, manufacturing, and transport” are predominantly done by men, while “most workers in health care and education occupations are women.”
The problem is that male-dominated professions tend to offer higher pay, he says, asserting that “parking lot attendants (usually men) are paid more to watch cars than full-time child care workers (usually women) are paid to care for children, even though child care workers are increasingly being pushed to earn a college credential.”
Citing data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, though, he also confirms that not only are women more likely to work part-time, but also that “among full-time workers, men work longer hours on average than do women.”
While Miller cites women’s choices as the cause of the pay gap, he doesn’t suggest that women’s choices can solve it.
In response to a common question the AAUW receives regarding whether women should “choose higher-paying jobs,” Miller is mum on whether this could make a difference, merely noting that women can’t avoid “societal bias by choosing a career in an occupation that is higher paying.”
The AAUW, which celebrates seven different equal pay days, has campaigned relentlessly over the past few years to argue that the gender pay gap is due to discrimination, but this appears to be the first article in which the organization takes a more nuanced approach to the issue.
Indeed, Miller acknowledges that to the extent that discrimination against women actually does influence the pay gap, only about “7 percent” is explained by gender, according to AAUW research, while another study pegged the figure at 8 percent.
“The gender pay gap is an estimate of the actual gap in pay between men and women, not an estimate of the effect of discrimination,” he explains, though he then goes on to argue that discrimination is still a problem.
“These estimates of the gap due to gender bias and discrimination are smaller than the overall gender pay gap, but the gap due to bias and discrimination is still substantial,” he concludes. “Regardless of how much of the pay gap is due to gender bias and pay discrimination, the size of the overall gap—the difference in actual pay received by women and men—is still an important indicator of the economic inequality faced by women in the United States.”
Campus Reform reached out to the AAUW for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.